Tag Archives: women’s health

Women who work long hours risk piling on weight

3 Apr

The more hours women work, the more likely they are to gain weight. That’s the blunt finding of a study of 9,000 middle-aged Australian women.

Long hours are defined as 41-48 hours per week. Very long hours are 49-plus. The argument the researchers put forward for the weight gain of hard-working women is because they don’t have the time or energy to eat healthily or exercise. More than half of the women (55%) put on weight during the two years of the study, while a third (31%) lost weight.

Nicole Au, a research fellow at the Centre for Health Economics at Monash University who carried out the study, says: “These statistics provide some clues as to how employment patterns may affect lifestyle choices, and subsequently, body weight.”

The survey found that 65% who work more than 49 hours per week drink alcohol at risky levels, and 36% did not do any physical activity. These findings chime with a report out in the UK showing that women’s dangerous levels of drinking are causing more divorces. The Telegraph reports that women are drinking more to help them cope with work stress.

Is anxiety burning women out?

8 Jun
womaneer rocking chair

Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but gets you nowhere (pic: istockphoto.com/pterwort)

There’s a saying that worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but it gets you nowhere. That’s certainly the case for many women who suffer anxiety, and for whom it gets to the stage where it affects their performance at work.

Anxious female brains work harder than male ones, says research from Michigan State University. In tests, worried women performed the same as men on simple parts of the task – but performed worse on the more difficult parts, suggesting that “worrying got in the way of completing the task”.

Jason Moser, lead investigator on the project, said: “Anxious girls’ brains have to work harder to perform tasks because they have distracting thoughts and worries. As a result, their brains are being kind of burned out by thinking so much.” Continue reading

Emotional stress goes straight to the heart of women

26 Apr

Emotional stress has more impact on women than men, and can lead to an impact on heart health, according to research from the Penn State College of Medicine.

Stress hurts women's hearts. (istockphoto.com/jcsmily)

When women feel emotional stress – such as the pain of bereavement, or the breakdown of a marriage – blood flow to the heart remains the same, whereas it increases for men. This puts more stress on the heart, and can lead to heart pain.

The researchers said: “This puts women at greater risk of coronary pain and could offer an explanation for ‘broken heart syndrome’ – a temporary weakening of the heart muscle during emotional strain, like losing a partner. It’s almost exclusively felt by women.”

However, it’s not exclusively women who suffer from stress, as findings from a separate survey show. The Evening Standard reports figures from Nuffield Health’s Canary Wharf medical centre that nearly half (44%) of Londoners don’t take their holiday entitlement. A third said they didn’t have time for a break, or feared losing their job.

Nearly half are working unpaid overtime, with 12% working an extra eight to 20 hours in the week. Half (51%) feel their tolerance levels have lowered since the economic downturn, and a third argue more with family members.

Stressed-out workers seek relaxation in alcohol (22%), and a third turn to exercise. Perhaps the figures on heart health will be a salutary reminder to female workers to leave their desks on time, and submit their holiday forms in full.

The daily commute is more stressful for women then men

23 Aug

Is the daily grind hard to handle? (pic credit: istockphoto)

Any working mother with young children will know just how stressful it is to get them ready, get yourself ready, and get in the car to drop them off at school or nursery and then make a dash for the train. It often feels like you’ve done a day’s work before you’ve even reached your desk.

It’s the added responsibility and burden of chores and childcare that adds to the daily stress of commuting for women, whereas men may have a longer journey but without the same negative psychological impact, according to a new report from Professor Jennifer Roberts at the University of Sheffield, published in the Journal of Health Economics.

‘It’s driving her mad’: Gender differences in the effects of commuting on psychological health concludes that “commuting has an important detrimental effect on the psychological health of women, but not men”. Analysing data from the British Household Panel Survey , the finding say: “We explore explanations for this gender difference and can find no evidence that it is due to women’s shorter working hours or weaker occupational position. Rather women’s greater sensitivity to commuting time seems to be a result of their larger responsibility for day-to-day household tasks, including childcare and housework.”

The psychological impact of commuting was four times worse for women than men with pre-school children. Professor Roberts added: “We know that women, especially those with children, are more likely to add daily errands to their commute, such as food shopping and dropping off and picking up children from childcare. These time constraints and the reduced flexibility that comes with them make commuting stressful in a way that it wouldn’t be otherwise.”

Women feel guilty for taking time off sick

25 May

Women struggle to their desks even when ill (istockphoto spepple2)

Women take more sick days in their career than men – 189 days off compared to 140 for men – but women will do their best to make it to their desk when illness strikes, or end up feeling guilty for leaving their colleagues in the lurch.

These are the results from a survey of 1000 people commissioned by Benenden Healthcare Society, which appears to confirm the ‘man flu’ theory, in that a man will typically call in sick the moment he feels ill (four in 10 admitted to doing so in the survey) – whereas a woman will soldier on until she succumbs to the illness. Men tend to be off for minor illnesses, such as a sore throat or headache, whereas women will have  symptoms such as fever or vomiting.

Bosses seem to be less trusting of men, however, and are more likely to call their male employees to check up on them – and men are more likely to avoid calling in and choosing to text or email instead.

Where the real gap in gender behaviour and attitude exists, however, is in how guilty they feel about being off work sick. Two-thirds of women say they feel for taking time off – and 70% feel they’re unable to take any time off work at all. This compares with a third of men who feel guilty, and six in 10 who feel they can’t take time off.

I’ve never been a fan of martyrdom in the office: if someone is ill, they should stay home and get better (as long as they are genuinely ill, of course, or the sickie may be a symptom of some other kind of pressure or under-performance issue). But if the illness is genuine, don’t bring it into the workplace – and don’t waste energy feeling guilty about it, either.

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